Synonymous with brawn and rebellion, Harley Davidson's new endeavor shifts its brand to the more sustainable electric motorcycle.
This is what comes to mind when you hear the name Harley-Davidson, right?
Or something like this:
Or maybe even this:
Now when you hear Harley-Davidson, you can also picture this:
So it doesn’t look all that different, but that’s the whole point. LiveWire is a Harley-Davidson through and through. It has 74 horsepower, 52 foot-pounds of torque, a governed top speed of 90 MPH, and can go from zero to 60 in 4 seconds. Oh, and it’s an electric motorcycle.
Weighing in at a mere 460 pounds, LiveWire is “nimble, agile, and light.” This is largely due to its futuristic aluminum exoskeleton, hollow wheel spokes, and lack of an exhaust system. The bike runs on a lithium-ion battery that lasts for 53 miles. The battery takes 3.5 hours to completely recharge at 220 volts.
Lasting long enough to get you to work and back—and likely run some errands in between—LiveWire is expected to appeal to a younger, more urban consumer base. Yamaha is already experimenting with an electric bike, and so are many smaller companies like Zero Motorcycles and Brammo.
But execs at Harley-Davidson insist that the LiveWire does not represent a major change for the company overall, and LiveWire will feature that classic Harley sound.
According to Wired.com, though, LiveWire “doesn’t sound anything at all like a proper Harley—or a ‘fighter jet landing on an aircraft carrier’ as Harley brass say—but it’s got a futuristic sound that brings to mind an airliner taking to the air.”
Harley’s engineers are being coy with the details, namely when LiveWire will be available to the public. This first model is just a prototype based on what Harley-Davidson thinks their “customers are looking for,” and they plan on perfecting the bike over the course of the next two years while touring the world and soliciting feedback.
Dubbed Project LiveWire, the tour started out in New York, hit Milwaukee, and then traveled through Boston during the last week in June. Harley says it’ll be in Philadelphia in July, but hasn’t come out with specific dates yet.
The company did promise to include a trip down the iconic Route 66, visiting a minimum of 30 dealerships before the end of 2014.
By the time you can walk into a dealership and purchase a LiveWire—which probably won’t be for a while—it may look nothing like it does right now. Harley-Davidson doesn’t seem to be moving forward on the electric motorcycle project in a hurry, but the fact that they’re building an electric bike, and a good one at that, shows that times, and tastes are always evolving.
This is exciting news for motorcycle enthusiasts and environmentalists alike, and goes to show that even if the government is slow to push green legislation, consumer demands are beginning to steer the auto industry in a more sustainable direction.